Saturday, April 5, 2014

Cheetah Power Surge Fruit Punch


Fruit Punch is one of two new Cheetah Power Surge flavors that recently came out. The other is watermelon and to be honest sounds much more original and interesting, but I am saving that for another post.

I found both at a Foodland store outside of Waterloo for $1.49 each. I haven't seen them yet other places, but I am sure stored that normally carry Cheetah will carry these two soon enough.

Taste

The taste is very sour and amazingly refreshing and tasty when drinking it cold...especially after a night of drinking. Like most other fruit punch flavoured beverages, it is hard to tell the individual fruits apart, but the overall combination comes together nicely. Once you have finished drinking is when some of the nasty and typical Cheetah notes start to emerge starting with the saltiness of the drink and some of the energy ingredients, which are then covered up by more salt. Fortunately the saltiness is intense only at the finish and doesn't linger for too long. Give it a few moments and it will disappear, leaving just an intensely sour aftertaste that is also quite refreshing.

Why am I talking about salt so much? Well, if this is your first time drinking a Cheetah, or thinking about drinking one, be aware of the 500 mg of sodium each can contains. According to the label, that is about 21% of your daily recommended dose. This is a little odd, but it does work in this case.

Energy

Again, if this is your first experience with a Cheetah drink, pay close attention to the "Caffeine Free" text on the label because there isn't any caffeine in the can. The active ingredient is ginseng and works OK for something that doesn't have caffeine, but the drink does not pack the punch of caffeine-full energy drinks.

I instantly felt awake when I took a sip, but that might have been a combination of me being thirsty, tired and the drink being cold, refreshing and sugary. Over the course of the next 30-40 minutes I started to feel gradually more energized, but it never got to the same point I could have gotten to with a coffee or a caffeinated energy drink (duh), but for something that is caffeine free, it did work OK. Also, there were no jitters, which is always a big plus in my book. I think these drinks are better suited for people seeking a kick but are caffeine sensitive.

I have to give this a slightly higher energy score simply because it has no caffeine yet it still did OK.

Scores:
Cost - $1.49
Taste - 7.8/10
Energy - 6/10

Overall - 13.8/20...very refreshing even with the 500 mg of sodium

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Rockstar Energy Water Review


I assume this is called Rockstar Energy Water as I don't really see any big letters near the "Rockstar Energy" label indicating that this is water. In fact, if you were to look a bit closer near the bottom of the label, this is where you will see the words "flavoured water beverage"....immediately followed by "caffeinated energy drink". Man, Canadian labels are confusing, eh?

Besides the tiny letters, the first indication of it being a caffeinated water was the fact that it was located in the water isle in the local grocery store and not in the energy drinks section in the next isle. Good thing I was walking through and even looked. This was announced without much fanfare in our province so it is easy to miss.

Taste

Orange-Tangerine

Oh, this one is great! I wasn't expecting this, but the aroma is strong with a lot of tangerine notes. The flavour is actually also strong with the tangerine up front and a bit of the orange at the back end and in the aftertaste. Normally I find flavoured waters to be a bit dull, but this is really good. There is some sweetness to it, but it comes from the artificial sweeteners and the sour notes do help keep it down for a while, but halfway through the bottle, I did find the sweetness to be a bit more than I would like it to be.

Taste - 9/10

Citrus

The flavours of this one fall somewhere between the intensity of the orange-tangerine flavour and the dullness of most vitamin waters. On the plus side, I found it less sweet than the orange-tangerine, but also the flavour was much less defined and tasted like an almost identifiable mix of random citrus fruits. I say almost, because you do get a bit of lime in the aftertaste...along with some artificial sweetener.

Not my favorite flavour, but I do admit that it is somewhat refreshing.

Taste - 7.8/10

Blueberry, Pomegranate, Acai

As tired as I am of this combination, I will have to admit that I kinda liked this one. I found the flavour to be intense enough so it is above the competition, but also dull enough so that the sweetness doesn't build up. You get a taste of all ingredients at different stages starting and ending with the blueberries. The pomegranate and the acai are stuck between the blueberry ends but to emerge in the aftertaste as very subtle reminders of what you just consumed. Yeah, as boring and exhausted this combination is, it is quite nice.

All of these Rockstar Energy Waters reminded me more of Gatorade and Powerade in terms of flavour and balance rather than vitamin waters or other flavoured waters...and I love Gatorade so it was easy to like these new Rockstar products.

Blueberry, Pomegranate, Acai - 9/10

Energy

OK, this is the most crucial part and why people buy these things - the kick. I like how Rockstar prioritized the label real estate and decided to allocate more room for the "180 mg caffeine" label than the "flavoured water beverage" label. So yeah, each bottle contains 180 mg of caffeine, which may sound like a lot (and it is), but do remember that you are consuming 591 mL of liquid and not the typical 473 mL found in a regular can of Rockstar Energy drink.

What does this mean? Well, for those not good with numbers (and me), it means that the water has a ratio of 0.305 mg of caffeine per mL of liquid, while the energy drink has a ratio of 0.338 mg of caffeine per mL. So you do get more caffeine out of the regular energy drink (160 mg of caffeine per can) per unit volume, but since you are consuming more liquid with the water, you end up consuming more caffeine.

But does it work? Hell yeah, it works. After 20 minutes I was ready to fly...and didn't get very jittery either. However, I do strongly suggest sipping on this water and consuming it over a longer period of time to completely eliminate the jitters.

The energy lasted for about 3-4 hours and I didn't feel a crash at the end because I had the waters first thing in the morning and did have plenty of energy left in me. If I were to consume these in the afternoon, or early evening, I probably would have been pooped at the end.

Energy - 8.5/10

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Mike Tyson Collection Black Energy Drink and Black Sex Energy Drink


Yeaaah....what? Mike Tyson has an energy drink...in Poland? That's odd, but the flavours sound great - Lime and Mint Mojito and Pitahaya-Grenadine-Lime Mojito. The wife found these at an Asian international market out of all the places. So how do they taste?

Taste

Black Energy

I decided to start with what I assumed is the "original" drink - Black Energy. The Black Energy is a lime and mint mojito, which I didn't expect when my wife told me about what she found. I pictured this as another Red Bull clone.

So did they really pull off the lime and mint flavours? Surprisingly...yes! Besides the very odd, radioactive-looking green color, this drink smells and tastes like a lime and mint mojito. In fact the mint is so well done that I kept thinking that I am chewing on fresh leaves and trust me, I know what that tastes. The lime is a bit weaker and tastes like a generic, no-name brand of lemon-lime soda (sorry, no lime-only sodas in my area to compare it to), however, does give the refreshment factor a boost and nicely complements the mint aftertaste.

The drink is sweet, but it is more of a candy sweetness than a sugary mess, and I really like candy sweetness. It does build up over time, but if you give yourself enough time between gulps, the sweetness will die down. Also, the mint aftertaste is amazing. I wish more drinks came with an added mint flavour.

Black Sex Energy


Not sure if you can tell from the photo, but this can is completely matte and feels great. If there was less text, I think it would have been an amazing design, but oh well.

So the Black Sex Energy is the Pitahaya-Grenadine-Lime Mojito. What is pitahaya? Well, that's just dragonfruit. And what is grenadine? It is a pomegranate-based syrup.

OK, so with the definitions taken care of, how does this taste? It has an odd chemical, cough syrup smell, but the taste is pretty damn good. Dragon fruit in my opinion has a very faint flavour, which here is present, but it is faint and doesn't emerge until the finish. The grenadine is fortunately (I find it very sweet...being a syrup and all) dialed down a notch, but still makes a few appearances, which gives the drink a nice, yet muted sweetness. In addition, you can actually taste the pomegranate in the aftertaste. The lime helps offset the sweetness and gives the drink a refreshing aftertaste.

Though a bit less sweet than the Black Energy at first, the sweetness builds up in a similar manner, but again, if you give yourself enough time between sips, the sweetness will die down.

The blend of these 3 flavours is very familiar, but I just can't put my finger on it. I liked it.

Energy

There are 80 mg of caffeine in each of the cans and both flavours share the same effects, which are similar to your standard can of Red Bull - sugar rush with some jitters, followed by a boost that lasts for about an hour with minimal to moderate crash depending on the state you were in when you had the drinks.

In summary, I am not afraid to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by both these drinks. I was expecting a cheap Red Bull knock-off or a super-sweet soda with caffeine, but nope, these flavours were unique and very good.

Scores:
Cost - unsure
Taste - 8.9/10 for Black Energy and 8.5/10 for Black Sex Energy
Energy - 6/10

Overall:
Black Energy - 14.9/20
Black Sex Energy - 14.5/20

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Starbucks Refreshers Blueberry Acai


Yup, my eyes are not deceiving me. This is the first new energy drink I have seen on the market in Ontario since some time last year (2013). Can't believe it squeezed through the regulations....well, maybe it is easier for beverages without so much caffeine.

I got a can of this from the local Zehr's supermarket, which was having a 2 for $5 promotion. Crazy! I was at a Starbucks later and did not see it there. Nor did I see it at the gas station I stopped at later that day. I wonder why the supermarket got these out first before...well...the store that makes and sells them?

Also, before I get to the actual review, I have to say - this can does not look pretty. It was placed right next to the other Refreshers (the Strawberry and the Melon ones) and just looked ugly. It was the same basic design idea, but for some reason the execution was not as good.

Taste

I have to compliment whoever developed this drink because just from the aroma you can tell what is in this Refresher - blueberries and acai. It is very well done with a sweet blueberry note on top and a sour acai undertone.

The taste is similar but now it is more like a club sandwich of flavors. Sweet blueberry notes start you off (bread) which are then followed by acai (filling), which is then followed by a brief spurt of sweet blueberries (bread), followed by more acai in the finish (filling) and finally followed by a lingering sweet blueberry aftertaste. Yup...sandwich.

There are 20 grams of sugar and its presence does become noticeable towards the end as the sweetness starts to build up from the first sip. On the plus side, the sour notes help mask most of the sweetness following each sip. To me, it seemed like that tiny bit that didn't get masked built up.

Also, not sure what combination of flavors resulted in this, but I started getting a whiff of artificial sweetener in the aftertaste about half way through the can.

Energy

Like all other Refreshers, the Blueberry Acai one also contains only 50 mg of caffeine. This isn't much of a kick, but I love Refreshers because they taste great and I can always have one late in the day without it affecting my sleeping schedule. I would not depend on one in the morning to replace a cup of coffee or your standard 473 mL energy drink...nor would I drink 3 of these to get the same level of caffeine.

So, having said that, you know where I am heading with the energy results - this Refresher is good for a 1 hour energy bump for us caffeine addicts, which comes in within 30 minutes of consumption. Also there is no crash at the end.

Overall, the Starbucks Refreshers Blueberry Acai is a great tasting and refreshing "light" energy drink that I hope will stick around on the market for a while.

Scores:
Cost - $2.50 with promotion
Taste - 9/10
Energy - 5.5/10

Overall - 14.5/20...great tasting, decent energy bump

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Black Medicine Iced Coffee


Black Medicine Iced Coffee is not a new and unique idea, but what's unique about it is what's inside that bottle. There are only 3 ingredients and they are - filtered water, coffee and Vitamin C. That's it. Really, this is it. There is no sugar, no soy, no milk, nothing more. Every iced coffee I have seen sold here has at least a paragraph of ingredients so given the opportunity, I agreed to review this product.

Taste

The label recommends Black Medicine to be consumed either over ice or as hot coffee. Since it is 7:00 a.m. on a chilly winter morning, I decided to try the hot option first. I poured half the bottle in a cup and microwaved the coffee for about a minute. I know that the label recommends 90 seconds, but I only poured half of the bottle, which was enough for me.

The aroma? Yup, smells like coffee and nothing else. The taste? Yup, coffee...black coffee, though I found it to be a bit sour at first, but that's probably due to the Vitamin C. Other than the sourness, there are the typical roasted notes black coffee carries, except it feels like they have been more concentrated. I wouldn't compare the flavor of it with a premium roast, but it is still way above the typical cheap coffee you buy in cans from the grocery store.

OK, don't hate me, but I couldn't resist trying this next with some cream and sugar. I just wanted to know what Black Medicine would taste like if it had the typical additional ingredients found in most other iced coffees. For the masses, I have to say that probably cream and sugar will be necessary, but for me, I think I will stick to black....Black Medicine.

So cold? Well, have you ever gone into a Starbucks and just ordered a medium roast over ice? Yup, that's what it tastes like, or at least along the same lines. I do that in the summer (not just at Starbucks, but everywhere) to get caffeine into me on a hot day and it is great. Black Medicine works great on ice and in the summer, I will probably drink it on ice as some of the sourness was cut which made this coffee even more enjoyable.

Energy

Though no exact caffeine numbers are provided on the label, it does say that the coffee is about 50% more intense than a regular cup of coffee, thus packing 50% more caffeine than a typical cup of coffee. But who cares about numbers? I care more about the performance and this does perform well.

I didn't chug my cup, instead I sipped it while going through my RSS feeds and even after half of cup (1 quarter of a Black Medicine bottle) I felt energized, yet focused. The boost came in so gradually that I did not notice it at all. Over the course of 30 minutes I went from still trying to wake up to feeling great and focused (this is very critical to me as I prefer to be focused than anything else). I did not experience any jitters, but that's probably due to the slow consumption of this beverage.

I kept sipping on the coffee, which had lost a lot of its heat, and kept reading until it was all gone. The boost lasted for a few hours and there was no crash at the end. Since there are no additives, this is the true power of caffeine from coffee. Yup, this was one great drink.

Scores:
Cost - Unsure
Taste - 8.9/10
Energy - 9/10

Overall - 17.9/20...surprisingly great product, but may not be for everyone if you don't like your coffee black

Sunday, February 9, 2014

NoDoz Energy Shots Orange Review


I got a 2-pack of NoDoz from a WalMart somewhere in Michigan near the Windsor/Detroit border. Which one? Well, I don't know. They all look the same to me just like all the suburbs and the highways. I think the cost was something like $3.99 or $2.99...something fairly cheap by Canadian standards, but about average for American standards.

There were 2 flavors on the shelf, but I only got the orange one thinking the grape one would not taste great. Grape is such a simple flavor, yet so hard to pull off.

Taste

The taste is surprisingly good at the start. I kept the shot in the garage and since it is -15 outside, its contents were cold which made the first sip extremely refreshing when combined with the "fresh" orange taste. The flavor is tart and does feel fairly fresh. After the second sip I thought that the shot could be a bit more concentrated as it felt watery.

Third sip revealed the slight build up of bitterness towards the end, which fortunately, is quickly killed by the tart orange finish. The aftertaste carries some "fresh" orange at the start which turns into more of a "fake" orange after a minute or two. Obviously some sweetener aftertaste is present as well.

For $3 or $4 for 2 shots, these are not bad tasting at all.

Energy

Each shot contains 115 mg of caffeine, which is mid-range for me for a shot of this size. The effects are noticeable within 10 minutes and they start of gradual but by the time you sense that you are starting to wake up, there is a rush of energy and BAM - slight jitters. Don't worry, they are not as bad as some other shots, but you will still experience some.

Give it a bit more time and the jitters will end just around the time you feel moderately energized. The kick lasted for almost 2 hours for me and ended without much drama. Again, not a bad shot for the price.

Scores:
Cost - $2.99 or $3.99 from WalMart
Taste - 8/10
Energy - 7.8/10

Overall - 15.8/20...decent price, decent taste, decent kick...decent shot

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Monster Energy Ultra Red Review


So I went to the US again for a few hours and unfortunately for me, this is the only new energy drink I was able the find at the gas station I stopped at. I also got an energy shot, but more on that later. From my past few trips to Michigan, it seems like gas stations and 7-11s in Canada and the US are starting to carry similar caffeinated items and in order to find something new, I have to venture off the beaten path, which is not always something I can do when I am travelling.

Anyhow, I cannot complain too much as I still got a new thing to try.

Taste

The can is red, the drink is red and you know what that means...well...a few things really - it is either fruit punch, cherry, berry, or cranberry flavored. I know that it can also be strawberry, or a strawberry cocktail, but how many of those have you seen that pack a caffeine punch? Also beet????

Back to the taste - it is a cranberry/cherry/fruit punch combo. The cherries are dominant at the start, but shortly after the first burst of flavor comes a cranberry note and a medley of unidentifiable fruits save for a hint of lime buried somewhere in there.

There are no off-putting flavors in my opinion and the sugar balance is damn good. The aftertaste is semi-clean with only a very minor diet aftertaste build up.

Overall, I think this is a very good flavor and though it may sound boring, it is actually quite tasty.

Energy

There are 140 mg of caffeine in the can, which to me seems to be on the lower end of the spectrum for such drinks. However, the drink works as expected with a quick, but gradual build up with no jitters (I drank mine over the course of 20-25 minutes) and a caffeine high that lasts for 2-3 hours with a very gentle comedown.

Scores:
Cost - $3.49 (if I remember correctly)
Taste - 8.8/10
Energy - 8.2/10

Overall - 17/20...sounds boring, but very tasty